PAC: Series Sepang II Saturday qualifying report

Rounds 3 and 4 Qualifying. Wootton on pole in Malaysia. Sepang, Malaysia -- Formula BMW Junior Chris Wootton (AUS/20/Eurasia Motorsport) scored his first pole positions of the 2009 Formula BMW Pacific season today after qualifying with the...

Rounds 3 and 4 Qualifying.

Wootton on pole in Malaysia.

Sepang, Malaysia -- Formula BMW Junior Chris Wootton (AUS/20/Eurasia Motorsport) scored his first pole positions of the 2009 Formula BMW Pacific season today after qualifying with the two fastest times for both Rounds 3 and 4. Team mate Axcil Jefferies (ZIM/15) will join him on the first row of the grid for Round 3 today, while Gary Thompson (IRL/16/ E-Rain Racing) qualified third fastest for Round 3. Jefferies and Thompson will switch positions for the start of Round 4.

The overall qualifying times for the top three drivers were all within a tenth of a second, with Wootton and Jefferies separated by just four-hundredths of a second.

In Round 3, current Drivers' Classification leader Thompson will be joined on the second row of the grid by Akhil Khushlani (IND/19/E-Rain Racing). Formula BMW Junior Steel Guiliana (17/Atlantic Racing Team) will look to further improve upon his lap times after making significant strides on Thursday's Official Test and after his first races here in Sepang during April's first two rounds.

The drivers' fastest time in the 30-minute qualifying session sets the grid for Round 3, while their second-fastest time determines the grid for Round 4.

Wootton said his success was due to a small change in the set up, which not only worked, but made all the difference: "It's fantastic," he said. "In practice I was running fifth and Gary has been going strong in all of the sessions. Our improvement was big and it's excellent for the whole team."

Wootton, now in his second season of Formula BMW Pacific, said that having a closely competitive team mate contributed to the team's success: "The last three (practice) sessions, Axcil has been within a tenth of my time," Wootton said. "I've been pretty lucky to have had the upper hand in those sessions, but it's a great help for us to be able to push each other and look at each other's data to understand where we can both improve."

Thompson fell short of earning a third consecutive pole position as the Irish driver set his best time early in the session and was unable to better it.

In the early minutes of the session, Thompson first set the lap to beat and then continued to better his time. Fahmi Ilyas (MAS/17/Team E-Rain Racing) also had a strong start to the session, closely following Thompson. Ilyas qualified fifth for Round 3 and fourth for Round 4.

Having run into some problems early in the session, Team Holzer PFX driver Dominic Ang (MAS/19) moved up to eighth place. With just four minutes to go, Indonesia's Rio Haryanto (16/Meritus) moved up to fourth in the time sheet. However, Khushlani and Ilyas quickly reclaimed their positions and Haryanto will start from sixth in Round 3.

"The qualifying went okay, not the best," Guiliana said. "My team put on a new set of tyres this morning for our final practice session and I learned a lot from that. Hopefully I can keep improving for the races."

Thompson also admitted disappointment after his dominant start to the season: "I made a mistake on my best lap and really never got it together," he said. "I didn't put a string of strong laps together and maybe I was a bit over-confident as our practice times had been so strong."

Rounds 3 and 4 will be run this afternoon at the 5.543km Sepang International Circuit. Today and Sunday's four races are part of the Asian Festival of Speed.

-credit: fbmw

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Akhil Khushlani , Dominic Ang , Chris Wootton , Axcil Jefferies , Fahmi Ilyas , Rio Haryanto , Gary Thompson , Steel Guiliana